Thursday 13 February 2014

Review: Deadliner – 'Wardenclyffe'


Chicago based musician Steve Christie has been around for a number of years under his Deadliner moniker. Experimenting, remixing and generally going under a lot of people's radars it's a sort of inevitability that his latest work 'Wardenclyffe' is a concept album based around the arcane inventor Nikola Tesla. Christie is no stranger to lofty concepts in his work, but on 'Wardenclyffe' that experience has come together to yield something rather exceptional.

'Wardenclyffe' is a 20-track monster of an album that tells the story of the Serbian-American inventor (and mad scientist blueprint) as he toiled relentlessly for seventeen years in his laboratory in New York state. All the tracks are instrumental and give the album a cinematic soundtrack quality. Indeed, it sounds as though it could be used as a modern score an Fritz Lang directed silent biopic of Tesla in the same way Girgio Moroder did with Lang's 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis.

This is primarily an industrial album with dashes of ambient and electro. The result is an esoteric variety of tracks, some of which are dark and foreboding, some are light and atmospheric, while others are downright danceable. Tracks such as 'Transmitter', 'World System', 'Alternate', 'Cathode' and 'The Doldrum' have a surprising dancefloor potential with their moving rhythms and catchy melodies. The most blatantly commercial track though is without a doubt, 'Static Coupling' which features vocal contributions from UCNX for a nice hard floor-filler.

These are counterpointed by some seriously exquisite song-writing in the form of songs such as 'Polarized', 'Stationary Waves', 'The Decay', 'The Believers' and 'The Futurist' that blend ambient electro, and classical flourishes with powerful and emotive storytelling. While the production is as perfectly crafted as the songs demand. The mix is light and modern, while the instruments sound fresh and lack any dated electronic vibes.

If there were any justice this album will go down as a game-changer for Deadliner. At 20-tracks in length it may seem daunting to try and listen to it in a single sitting. But such is the skill of the writer that they just fly by. It's just a shame that there isn't a visual accompaniment to the music to truly round-off the experience.

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